Whenever you come across a standup comic, it usually has something to do with their experience or life. Engineering stories play a large part in the dating life narratives that permeate the comic space. So when I stepped into stand-up comedy, it was clear from the start that I would joke about my disability. As an advocate for disability inclusion, humor is he one of the effective (and in my case tested) ways to get a message across.
I was born with spina bifida, a condition where the spinal cord is not fully developed. For most of my life, I’ve had to deal with the stigma and inaccessibility that comes as a disabled free package, around 2016 I was homebound for a few months with a broken bone, and on YouTube I had to Up found some of his comedies. I saw these videos and thought, “Oh, I’m being sarcastic too, so why don’t we form a club with disability comedy?” From there I started experimenting with humor.
At the time, I also happened to be one of countless stand-up comedians with disabilities. My work turned out to be a world first, so it was widely accepted, but it made the audience uncomfortable. With some truth bombs. Many of my personal stories and issues were difficult subjects for audiences. My reaction then and now is the same. It’s okay to joke around, but I want to talk about disability.
Comedy is a medium for starting discussions about disability and helping people overcome prejudices. But it shouldn’t be. People should first learn to ask if the person needs any help. Within that short 20-minute window for comedy and interactive sessions with the audience, I had many such messages to a largely unaware crowd about how to behave around people with disabilities. Through bits of comedy, it emphasizes the need to break down these barriers and stereotypes that we tend to associate with people and disabilities.
Over time, my sharp humor began to develop into multiple other issues, from unwanted help from people, apathy, housework to dating, etc. I still have a long way to go in mastering the craft of comedy. , is not easy. In my case, being on stage with crutches and being disabled as a feature of my humor makes it a little bit more difficult because there are so many layers to deal with. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to reach David Chappelle level comedy and be able to stand in front of an audience and tell a joke without being joking.
Either pity or inspiration – there’s nothing in between
One of the commonalities that I have noticed as a disabled person is that we are looked at with compassion and inspired. There’s really no middle ground. I was born with spina bifida, so people have told me that doing stand-up comedy “inspired me.” This is another stereotype that doing ordinary things should be admired just because you have different abilities. I’ve always been told to hang out with me and curse me as usual, not just call me.
On a daily basis, I had to deal with people’s stereotypes and lack of accessibility within the system. Accessing basic daily necessities using public transportation and public restrooms requires spending more than the average able-bodied person. Sometimes even rickshaws are charged double the meter rate, and sometimes you have to devise your own way. I spent his 7+ years working on these issues and started the ‘Givesome Space’ initiative with a friend to raise awareness about disability issues through social media. This page actively discusses aspects such as non-disability-friendly infrastructure, inclusion in infrastructure and urban planning, and is concerned with many different facets of disability.
Separately, I have communicated my thoughts through writing, a 12-minute documentary titled “Disability — a State of Mind,” on-the-ground awareness campaigns, interactive visual platforms, and advocacy. Hopefully, these actions will soon become a reality, making all places truly inclusive for all.
If you too have an inspiring story to share with the world, send your story to firstname.lastname@example.org.